Economic and Political Overview

flag Democratic Republic of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) possesses two-thirds of Africa's tropical forests, has a rich subsoil and a significant hydroelectric potential. The economy has suffered political conflicts over the past two decades. In 2022, the economy grew 6.1%, mainly driven by an increase in mining sector investment and exports. In 2023 and 2024, mining should remain the main contributor to the country's growth, with GDP being expected to reach 6.7% and 6.9%, respectively.

The economy of the DRC is mainly based on extractive industries, which are very dependent on world prices and international economic dynamics. The country's economy is therefore fragile and vulnerable to shocks. In 2023, with copper and cobalt prices expected to remain high, production and exports are set to increase in the coming years, which should continue to benefit the economy as a whole. In 2022, inflation decreased to 8.4%, thanks to a relatively more stable Congolese franc. However, inflation should increase to 9.8% in 2023, before decreasing to 5.6% in 2024. The debt-to-GDP ratio decreased in 2021, to 14.7%, and it further decrease in the coming years, reaching 10.8% in 2023 and 9% in 2024. Although the pandemic has significantly impacted the Congolese economy, the country has been recovering, with the government implementing measures to counteract the economic crisis resulting from it. However, although a relatively low inflation and a robust recovery plan have bolstered private consumption in the country, its contribution to growth was constrained by the large share of the population living below the poverty line.

The DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 70% of the population living in extreme poverty (World Bank, 2020). It is among the lowest-ranked in the human development index and violence is frequent, especially in the east of the country. According to the latest data from the World Bank, in 2021, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 22.2% - a slight decrease from the previous year, when that rate was 22.5%. However, among the employed share of the population, a high percentage of workers have informal jobs.

 
Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 65.7867.5173.2981.1989.56
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) 8.96.74.75.35.3
GDP per Capita (USD) 680675710762814
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 14.513.311.19.17.5
Inflation Rate (%) n/a19.110.67.17.0
Current Account (billions USD) -3.45-4.08-3.87-2.71-2.62
Current Account (in % of GDP) -5.3-6.0-5.3-3.3-2.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector represented 19% of GDP in 2021 and employed 64.3% of the population (World Bank). The vast majority of the population is engaged in agricultural activities for their subsistence and not for commercial purposes. The main crops are cassava, plantains, yams, rice and corn. Farmers across the country were negatively impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, as border closures limited trade flows of agricultural inputs, which resulted in a decrease in the country's planted area, fewer agricultural jobs, and overall below-average production. However, as restrictions lifted in 2021, the sector began to show signs of recovery.

The industrial sector contributed to 45.3% of GDP in 2021, and employed 9.8% of the population. The country is presented with vast natural resources, the mining sector playing a major role in the economy and being the main source of export earnings. The Katanga region is particularly rich in minerals, including copper, cobalt, zinc, cassiterite, manganese, coal, silver, cadmium, germanium (a fragile element used as a semiconductor), gold, palladium (a metallic element used as catalyst and in alloys), uranium and platinum. The DRC also has deposits of gas (methane) and diamonds. Manufacturing plays a marginal role in the country's economy, due to the lack of skilled labour and machinery. Industrial activity in the DRC continued to experience growth in 2022, registering a steady recovery from the impacts of the pandemic, with the export of metals and minerals being major contributors to the sector's growth.

The services sector represented 33.2% of GDP in 2020 and employed 25.9% of the working population. The banking system is dominated by foreign companies, but only a fraction of the Congolese have a bank account. Tourism is also underdeveloped due to the prevailing security problems in the country. Even though the services sector was negatively impacted by the pandemic, it registered an overall growth in 2022, which, according to the IMF, was among the highest in region.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 55.3 10.0 34.7
Value Added (in % of GDP) 17.4 48.6 31.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.4 15.7 3.3

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 

Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

 
 
Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Congolese Franc (CDF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 28.4342.4747.8146.4247.05

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
49/100
World Rank:
165
Regional Rank:
43

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation

 
 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Foreign Trade in Figures

The DRC is open to international trade, which represents 80.5% of its GDP (2021, World Bank). Former president Joseph Kabila’s government has established a series of reforms intended to improve the business climate and to diversify exports. With 80 million hectares of arable land and over 1,100 minerals and precious metals, the DRC has the potential to become one of the major exporting countries on the continent and a driver of African growth. The country's mainly exports refined copper (49.8%), cobalt (23.4%), copper ore (6.6%), crude petroleum (5.7%), and diamonds (2.9%); while it imports chiefly medicaments (4.9%), refined petroleum (3.9%), sulfuric acid (2.4%), stone processing machines (2.1%), and delivery trucks (2%).

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s key trading partners are China, Zambia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The DRC is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC), and the WTO. Furthermore, in 2022, the country signed bilateral agreements on cooperation in various sectors with Turkey, including defence and security, infrastructure and transport, non-double taxation, and investment promotion.

Although the DRC's trade balance was structurally negative,  the takeover of the raw material prices plays in favour of the exports growth and of the rebalancing of current accounts, making the country’s trade balance was positive in the last few years. The merchandise trade surplus increased to USD 3.9 billion in 2021, as imports of goods amounted to USD 10.3 billion, while exports reached USD 23.5 billion.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 7,9308,8256,6637,65811,000
Exports of Goods (million USD) 20,00413,38214,12224,12528,200
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,8022,2602,6913,9484,492
Exports of Services (million USD) 115142144169109
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 22.6-15.312.043.624.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 14.21.48.08.218.9
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 37.429.429.940.150.9
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 32.625.928.640.448.0
Trade Balance (million USD) 9944001,9233,940n/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,693-1,719-624161n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 69.955.258.580.598.9

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data

 
 
 
 
 

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.

 
 

Main Services

0.2 bn USD of services exported in 2021
58.29%
16.38%
10.40%
8.72%
2.54%
2.20%
1.47%
n/a%
4.0 bn USD of services imported in 2021
40.05%
24.69%
15.15%
6.68%
5.56%
4.06%
3.20%
0.41%
0.20%
n/a%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministries
Ministry of Mines
Ministry of Hydrocarbons
Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
Statistical Office
Statistics about DRC
Central Bank
Central Bank of East African States
Stock Exchange
Central African Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Google.cd
Economic Portals
Financial Times
BBC News

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Félix Tshisekedi (UDSP - since January 2019)
Prime Minister :Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge (ACO - since April 2021)
Next Election Dates
2023
Main Political Parties
Congolese citizens have the formal right to organize political parties. Hundreds of parties exist, organized along ethnic, communal, or regional lines; with the majority having only a regional reach. Key parties at national level include former president Kabila’s PPRD (People's Party for Reconstruction and Democracy; left-wing) and the UDPS (Union for Democracy and Social Progress, centre-left) of the current president Félix Tshisekedi. The MLC (Movement for the Liberation of the Congo, right-wing) also gained seats in the two houses of the parliament.
Type of State
Democratic Republic.
Executive Power
The Democratic Republic of Congo can be considered a semi-presidential republic. The executive power is vested in the President and in the Prime Minister. The latter is appointed by the President (normally choosing the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the parliament). The President is the head of state and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, while the Prime Minister is the head of government.
Legislative Power
The legislative power is attributed to the bicameral parliament, formed by the National Assembly (with 500 members elected by direct suffrage) and the Senate (with 109 members elected by the legislatures of the 25 provinces).
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
149/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Not Free

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.

 

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Latest Update: December 2023